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Henry's last holidays

8:46 AM, Nov 1, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- No one is having a better time at the Halloween party than Henry Kelley.

He rubs his nose against his pumpkin, transferring the paint to himself.

In his Buzz Lightyear outfit, he is the cutest 4-year-old this side of the Mississippi.

It's a short walk from the party at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, back to his room.

"It's a Christmas tree!" he says, as the art therapist helps Henry cover his hands and feet with green paint, his fingers and toes becoming branches of the tree.

"Each holiday is extremely important to us in this situation," Henry's mom Jessica Kelley said.

Just last month Henry's parents took him to the hospital for trembling and fatigue. "And we hoped it was maybe a vitamin deficiency or maybe he was getting MS," Jessica said. "You never ever think it's your child that has a massive brain tumor. It's extremely rare. The spnet tumors, there's only six to 10 in the country a year that get diagnosed with this."

One terrifyingly short month after the diagnosis, there is nothing more to be done. Henry is going home for hospice care.

That's why the creation of a Christmas tree craft, imprinted with Henry's tiny feet and hands, is so important.

Jessica wants Henry to enjoy what will likely be his last holidays. Despite her broken heart, she and her husband are determined their little boy feel the joy of the season.

"Every holiday takes on a brand new meaning," she said. "I want to make every minute as fun, as special, as normal for a 4-year-old that it can be, yet as fun as it can be."

Henry is proving himself a teacher to his mother -- even now. "We were throwing pennies in the pond and I said 'You're supposed to make a wish before you throw the penny in the pond. What do you wish for? If you could do anything in the world right now, what would it be?' And he said, 'This.' And it was the most amazing lesson to me to just enjoy the moment with him, that there is joy and peace because right now, my little boy is throwing pennies in the pond and we can smile and we can cherish that to a new level."

There is no more searching for a cure -- no more bargaining for time. But there is a sense of hope that comes from faith.

"We believe that Jesus's heart is for us, and for Henry, and for healing and restoration," Jessica said. "We may not see that on this side of glory. We'll still be with him in a short amount of time, forever."

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